Tuesday, January 23, 2007


It's a truism of the 9 to 5 world that good work goes unnoted while the boss and the customers only single out bad work. More or less the same happens in speculative fiction publishing. We even have a sort of horror subgenre based on the reported misdeeds of editors, agents, copyeditors, and writers themselves.

Competent people with a high degree of professionalism aren't praised nearly enough. One of these is Deanna Hoak, the copyeditor for my novel coming out from Pyr in July 2007. She did an impressive job. In reviewing the copyedited MSS in Microsoft Word, I responded with the electronic equivalent of stet at some places – I meant it the way I wrote it. At other places my reaction was Am I ever glad she caught that one!

Deanna's work was astute, meticulous, and fair. She posed excellent questions when the MSS was unclear, and when it was perfectly clear but merrily contradicted itself. So she caught scads of typos and worse. As a reader, typos irritate me, but if I can tell what the word/name/sentence was supposed to be, I don't fall out of the story. If the grammar has a glitch I grumble but keep reading. Logical lapses and internal inconsistencies are the worst annoyance of all. If I have to flip back and forth in a book trying to figure out how it makes sense – or how it could make sense if rewritten to say what the writer probably intended – well, that's when my suspension of disbelief teeters and may come crashing down. As John Gardner says in The Art of Fiction, a writer's mistake can abruptly and unpleasantly snap the reader out of the "vivid and continuous fictional dream." That's not, not, not what I want for my novel, and at number of points where it won't happen, I'll have Deanna to thank.

She has a Website in which she offers insight into what her job is like and much good advice to writers. Recommended!

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